Want a spy cam? An Apple Watch with camera is in the works

photo of apple watch

The Apple Watch is officially being given the green light to eventually have a tiny camera inside it. Apple has filed the patent at least.

Apple’s popular little watch is a remarkable tool that already lives up to so many science fiction visions from decades gone by, and soon it might get even more impressive.

The tech giant behind the tiny wrist device has filed an official patent with the US Patent and Trademark Office for a version of the Apple Watch with a small detachable camera built into it.

Unlike previous concept watch cameras from movies and books, this one will even let users shoot hands-free.

Owners of the Apple Watch already have the option of adding a camera through a third-party device called the Wristcam, which even shoots 4K video. However, this patent takes things to a new level by being native to the Apple Watch.

According to the patent, the watch camera will be part of a detachable nest section that would also let users release their watch and its camera without having to remove the strap itself from their wrists.

With this design, you could take a photo with the watch while it’s on your wrist or pull it off and use it as a tiny camera in your fingers. The patent information doesn’t mention sensor size or photographic resolution though.

The website Patently Apple covers the whole thing in greater detail, noting that the nest section works on a releasable attachment mechanism, probably magnetic, that lets a wearer quickly slip the nest from the watch mount.

patent diagrams apple watch with camera

In diagrams for the patent, the now-familiar watch design is visible with the camera positioned towards the bottom.

Quite frankly, I’m surprised that this obvious idea for an addition to a native Apple Watch camera wasn’t formalized sooner.

This is one seriously obvious thing to include on a compact Apple device, and there are many users who would love something so practical.

As a street photographer, I can say that it would be great for certain types of low-key shooting in situations where a full camera or even a phone held up would both be impractical.

Furthermore, the necessary technology is definitely here and has been for some time. Camera sensors in smartphones have become small and powerful enough to easily fit inside something like a watch with a bit of modification and they could even capture reasonably excellent photos.

patent diagrams apple watch with camera

Moreover, Apple’s watch already has more than enough processing power for its existing menu of apps. It could handle photo processing too, especially given apple’s powerful (though sometimes flawed) photo processing tech and Sony-made sensor technology.

Curiously, this isn’t the first time that Apple has filed patents for an Apple Watch with its own camera. The first patent was filed in 2018, and in 2019, Apple submitted another patent with a built-in, rotating camera.

Neither of these ever came to market for convoluted reasons, so we can’t be sure that this design will either, but the latest version definitely looks like the most practical to me.

The Apple Watch isn’t nearly as popular as the iPhone, but since its first introduction to the market in 2014, it has gained a major following among many Apple fans.

These little devices feature a pile of apps, connectivity to other Apple devices, and apps for health and safety.

These apps include an ECG app for heart rate monitoring and a blood oxygen meter. They also come with other useful tools like sleep trackers, temperature sensors and crash detection mechanisms.

For all their seemingly delicate aesthetic, Apple Watches are tough too, being able to resist penetration by dust, grime and even full immersion in the water down to a depth of 100 meters.

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Shotkit Journalist, Writer & Reviewer

Stephan Jukic is a technology and photography journalist and experimental photographer who spends his time living in both Canada and Mexico. He loves cross-cultural street photo exploration and creating fine art photo compositions.

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